Last year, I helped start a new CPQ implementation with a customer that had been using a manual quoting tool. During kickoff, we discovered that while plans called for implementing CPQ for three product lines, the customer actually required CPQ for five additional product lines.
We were told they had three distinct user groups – two more than we had planned – and those groups each handled distinct types of quotes that required different workflows and needs.
After more discussion, it became clear that 70% of quotes contained products from only the three major product lines, so we started with those use cases. Based on this discovery, we focused the initial implementation not on solving every use case but instead targeting the biggest chunk of similar use-cases.
In retrospect, this decision was vital in delivering value to the customer quickly – in just 90 days. We configured the solution to solve for the targeted product lines and user group, and at the same time laid a foundation for the addition of more product lines and user groups in the future.
The end result speaks for itself:
- The customer went live with the initial implementation and with great success.
- The company gained tremendous value very quickly.
- Today all of their products and user groups are live in the solution.
Here’s How — Key Lessons Learned in CPQ Software Implementation: The List of Four
When it comes to CPQ implementations, perfection is often the enemy of progress. Many times this pursuit of perfection comes at the cost of value. In the interest of realizing value from the CPQ solution as quickly as possible, we advocate modifying the pursuit of perceived perfection.
To be clear, the perfection I’m referring to is the desire for the new CPQ solution to have absolutely zero “perceived regressions” as compared with the old solution, whether it’s Excel, email or even another CPQ. When we work to address every edge-case and user-interface request from the old tool, we simply recreate the old solution. Just remember: There’s a reason a new solution was pursued and purchased.
Rather than using the old solution as a measuring stick for the new solution, here are four tenets to remember and consider while implementing a new CPQ solution:
- Consider launching the system for at least one portion of your business. After you go live with that first group, focus on the incremental work needed to roll it out to the next group, and so on. For example, I’ve worked on several occasions with companies to first roll-out a targeted CPQ solution to users whose use cases involves lots of quotes but not a lot of complexity. After the initial rollout, we added additional configurations to account for more complex quoting situations, which then allowed us to rollout to the balance of the users.
- Be certain your CPQ vendor is prescriptive. Any good CPQ vendor has enough experience in the market and in your specific industry to know the solutions you need to produce value for your company. We urge you to take advantage of this knowledge. If the vendor isn’t prescriptive as part of the implementation, demand it. For example, if you’re a distributor and rebates are part of your business model, the vendor should prescribe specific bill-back and rebate solutions. within the CPQ design.
- Be flexible and responsive to the input and experience your vendor brings to the project. Challenge the perceived needs when they conflict with the advice and expertise of your vendor. It’s a good thing that the new solution will be noticeably different from the old one. Let me offer this example: I was part of an implementation where the outgoing tool required users to find and select each individual package component. At first, users were concerned because the CPQ workflow would be very different. After communicating with stakeholders in the user community that the new workflow would be faster, easier and would automatically prevent errors, their concern for that change dissipated
- Create CPQ fans early: Deploy with advocates first.As you prepare for deployment to all of the users, the early adopters will help you evangelize to the rest of the user base, which can help ease change management concerns. Building your team of evangelizers is key to success. If users don’t adopt the new solution, you’ve failed.
Chart a path to the initial value as quickly as possible, while still getting all the foundational elements right. This solid foundation is your path to success. It will enable you to act upon new requirements or business needs in the future without redesigning or changing significant elements of the solution.
CPQ solutions are incredibly valuable in helping your sales team sell more successfully in the digital era. If you have questions or are looking for insights, let us know. We have implementations in virtually every corner of the world and with some high-profile customers. The increasing velocity of digital transformation means that many companies will be left behind. Don’t let it happen to you.
About the AuthorMore Content by Charles Campbell